The “mens sana in corpore sano” War Against Autistics, Dyslexics and Dyspraxics…

spartan education

(Multiple Trigger Alert: Accounts of Abuse and Humiliation Against Autistics, Dyslexics, Dyspraxics!!!)

Please don’t be offended by this post if you’re an athlete or someone else who believes in what I consider to be the myth of “a healthy mind in a healthy body”…

Because while I don’t mind at all if you earnestly believe that your healthy mind is supposed to dwell in your healthy body, or that for you, a healthy body is supposed to be an athletic one, for me, and for innumerable other non-athletic individuals, including countless autistics and dyspraxics whose bodies were/are “chubby and ungainly” as in Silberman’s mention of Asperger’s “poor Hellmuth”, life under this despicable, “mens sana in corpore sano” banner of humiliating the weak and less able, was and it still is a living hell, having wished so many and unfortunate times to have been literally thrown down the chasms of Taygetus…

I won’t launch in any diatribes about the fact that no human progress has ever been achieved in athletic arenas, except for who can run, swim, jump, kick etc, faster, higher and stronger, but I may disrespectfully ask, why was I forced, coerced and abused into achieving the impossible with a dyspraxic body in the name of a dysfunctional “Physical Education” mentality, while NONE of my athletically abled school colleagues were ever coerced e.g. into writing poetry?

Oh, and as I’m hearing your “but you need talent to write poems” disgruntled question, I’ll venture asking if the same could be also true about physical abilities for sports? Or do you think that only the less -physically- talented/abled are “entitled” to the ridicule of an entire class/school because we can’t do push-ups, frog-leaps, high-jumps, long-jumps, hurdles, we can’t climb ropes, run fast, play football, handball, basketball, volleyball, rugby, etc, while the less creatively talented/abled are exempt?

And I’m not talking about what you didn’t like about the literature and language curriculum, because the curriculum never asked you to force yourself ALL ALONG your school years to naturally start writing lengthy poems in rhyme and meter, long before you knew what “rhyme and meter” are, while the same curriculum forced me to be the laughingstock of an entire school’s gymnasium, as year after year I landed in front of, under, on top, on the sides, but never over the vaulting horse… Standing there, head bowed, swallowing my tears, rubbing my bruises, knowing that at the bottom of the invincible climbing-rope, my overweight PE teacher is going to give me another “you should try harder, you know”…

“Shame on you! Are you stupid, or dumb?” was the “best” my maths, physics, chemistry teachers could do in order to “boost” my chances to understand algebra, analytical algebra, trigonometry calculations etc, which were for them, the epitome of a “healthy mind”, proof that you’re not “eligible” for the “retard school”…

So, there was I, clumsy representative of generations of autistics, dyslexics (dyscalculia included) and dyspraxics, unhappily looking forward to receiving at home “what I deserve” for my bad grades (after a while I wasn’t even urinating in my trousers anymore…), happily knowing that my cubes need their daily arranging, my model planes their daily aligning, my favourite book (Zaharia Stancu’s Barefoot) its (probably) 139th consecutive reading, Darwin’s “Origin of Species” its further analysis, and Miklós Nyiszli’s “Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account” its horrifying impression on the mind of confused teenager…

Back in those days, no one would have thought that the chubby, big headed, silent dreamer they were abusing and humiliating for having a weird, “unhealthy” (read autistic/dyslexic/dyscalculic) mind in an unhealthy (read dyspraxic) body, would have grown to simultaneously interpret in three languages, creatively use four, understand six, using altogether eight, having self-taught himself three musical instruments, and earning (so far…) three major degrees and two postgraduates?

And as a final paradox, while in the military (you wouldn’t have believed that I’ve earned my stripes and stars once…) which I appreciated for its rule/order/hierarchy structure, they discovered quite quickly that I still can’t do more than 1 1/2 push-ups, and I still can’t climb ropes, but I’m very good at drawing complicated military maps, and I still can’t run neither much, nor fast, but I can force-march 30 km without any stops, leaving behind anyone else, arriving at the training range one hour before anyone else. And while as clumsy as a sloth when asked to run an obstacle course, it turned out that after graduating the military infirmary paramedic training, I was amongst the few to surgically remove/treat abscesses threatening to turn into septicaemias, and administer injections to infants living in remote areas, far away from regular civilian healthcare support. The “jarheads” saw not only what I can’t do, but also what I can, and facilitated my progress accordingly.

All these, and humbly much, much more, as someone who’s never been neither physically, nor mentally “healthy”, according to this planet’s favourite athletically inclined proverb.

But I could have done these, and probably much more, without the “spartan” beatings, the scorn, the shouting and the humiliation, for no other “fault” than that of having been born this way, my way…

 

Photo credits: http://helenroche.com/work/personal-and-political-appropriations-of-sparta-in-german-elite-education-napolas-and-prussian-cadet-schools

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13 responses to “The “mens sana in corpore sano” War Against Autistics, Dyslexics and Dyspraxics…

  1. Ben has “adaptive p.e.”. They work on things like throwing & catching various sized balls for hand-held coordination, climbing up and down stairs, turn taking…these are good uses of p.e. (which is *is* physical *education*) imo. He’s learning life skills and getting out of the classroom. Sounds like what you went through was more torture than education.
    It’s unfortunate that education is generally like a factory assembly line. Students, ND & NT are not all the same & don’t learn the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Gran, I’m pleased to hear that Ben has an adapted version of PE. Unfortunately it wasn’t the case in my time, and it doesn’t seem to have moved much nowadays either, as curriculums are still rigidly enforcing PE designed for competition based on physical abilities, which many children just don’t have. Why wouldn’t it be easier to swap a stupid football game PE class to a nature/park walk? The muscle mentality is still there, unfortunately…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. 🙂 have a kind and happy good night 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My son says it’s worse for boys. Ours is a family replete with those on the ND spectrum. And the males cannot compete physically and the females cannot compete in the beauty contests of life. The beauty competition is not formally taught, but is nonetheless real and cruel. Nevertheless, we are finding ways to make it in life. And many times the top competitors in sports and beauty struggle later in life. And are struggling even while they appear to be successful. Appearances can be deceiving.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Both males and females struggle their own way, unfortunately. Our family is the same. The worst is that there’s little differentiated diagnostic and support. That’s why autistics need to come out and become the specialists of tomorrow. Otherwise others, mostly NTs are going to guess and decide about our lives. Thanks Annual for your comment 🌹

      Like

  4. Will our species ever learn that the most important factor is respect and compassion for our fellow man? When we are young, we often lack the backbone for speaking up for ourselves or for others, yet we note when others are judged – just judged, it doesn’t matter what for, judging one against another is in poor taste… I was blessed with many gifts, but speaking up or standing up against what was wrong was not one. I was painfully shy, but those lessons also taught me, slowly oh so slowly… and eventually I learned to speak up – especially when the weaker ones were being bullied by stronger ones.

    Even now you have learned to use your own voice and through that voice, you speak for many. Thank you, and may your post help others to be kind to all…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

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